Diagnostic Requirements for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a progressive inflammatory disease that causes swelling, stiffness and pain in the wrist and hand joints. Other signs and symptoms consist of fatigue, weight reduction and fever, and other organs might be affected. RA can cause long term harm to the joints, leading to reduction of mobility and perform. Early detection and treatment can sluggish down the joint damage or prevent it entirely. The prognosis of RA is based on the extent of joint inflammation and certain blood exams.

2010 Diagnostic Criteria

Prior to 2010, the diagnosis of RA was based mainly on a mixture of noticed changes to the hand and wrist joints with x-rays of these joint changes and blood exams that exposed autoimmune elements. In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology printed new criteria that could determine the illness at an previously phase. Early detection is important, because more recent disease-modifying antirheumatic medication, or DMARDs, can frequently stop deformity if taken early sufficient in the disease process.

Joint Modifications

The main signs and symptoms of RA are stiffness, inflammation, warmth and discomfort at the joints of the hands and wrists. The knees and feet may also be affected. The stiffness might unfold to other joints, such as the shoulders and neck. Over time, inflammation in the joints can change the form and decrease the perform of these joints. Below the 2010 criteria, the presence of one swollen or tender joint is needed to start screening for RA. A point method is utilized, with at least 6 points needed to diagnose RA. Up to five factors are assigned based on the quantity of joints affected.

Blood Tests

RA is an autoimmune condition in which antibodies attack the body's personal joints. Rheumatoid aspect, or RF, was the initial antibody associated with RA. A much more current discovery is anticitrullinated protein antibody, or ACPA. The presence and degree of these 2 antibodies on blood exams provides up to 3 factors for the diagnostic requirements. Another established of exams, C-reactive protein and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, abbreviated as CRP and ESR, respectively, measure inflammation in the physique. Abnormal levels of either CRP or ESR will include 1 more stage toward diagnosis.


The final criterion for RA prognosis is length of the disease. It is a chronic disease, which means signs and symptoms may progress slowly or not at all, but they are present for the long phrase. One stage is awarded if symptoms have been present for more than 6 months. A patient who fits some of the criteria but with fewer than six complete factors should be monitored for changes that may confirm a diagnosis of RA.